Clydebank 2 Rossvale 1
Scottish Juniors Western Region – League Cup
Scottish football intrigues me.
You’ve got the Seniors, who are what we might term semi-professionals, and these can typically be found in the lower reaches of the Scottish Football League and down into the Lowland and Highland League’s, plus also the East and South of Scotland League’s.
You’ve then got the Juniors, who are operating under a completely separate jurisdiction, outside of the footballing pyramid, but, arguably in many cases you’ve got the better players, earning very good money, playing for teams that attract better attendances, albeit at stadiums that don’t fall under the same strict grading rules.
|Juniors In Action|
To try and put this into some context, the top Junior sides would include Auchinleck Talbot, Beith, Linlithgow Rose and Bonnyrigg Rose for example, they would attract better attendances than sides in Scottish League Two and Three, and since they’ve been admitted to the Scottish FA Cup, which only finally happened in 2005, they’ve had some impressive results.
Linlithgow Rose reached the Fourth Round in 2007-08, while in 2009-10 Irvine Meadow became the first Junior side to beat a League club with victory over Arbroath. Linlithgow went on to beat Forfar Athletic in 2015-16, while in 2016-17 Bonnyrigg Rose recorded a fantastic victory over second tier side Dumbarton away from home.
Bo’ness United have also recorded a couple of victories over League outfits, and to a certain extent these results are probably not huge shocks, and might explain why there was resistance to the Juniors mixing it with the Seniors on a national level.
The Juniors have re-organised over recent seasons and have now created something of a more structured system, based around three regions, namely Northern, Eastern and the strongest of them all, the Western. But that is where it ends, progression beyond winning the top tier of your Region was non-existent, but things are changing, especially in the Eastern Region where at the end of last season we saw an exodus of clubs move to the East of Scotland League, which in turns provides a potential route to the very top. Kelty Hearts for example have designs on reaching the Scottish Football League, and you wouldn’t bet against that. Is that likely in the Western Region? Not sure, but what I do know is that Clydebank, who currently top the tree, have made noises about applying to jump in 2019-20.
Clydebank then, blimey, when I was a lad and acquired my first Panini sticker album, the boys from New Kilbowie Park featured. For two seasons in the mid-eighties they were a Scottish Premier League outfit, but it was pretty much downhill after that, losing the iconic all-seater ground and eventually being swallowed up into the entity that was Airdrie United. Airdrie United came about after Airdrieonians folded, but a number of years later and the former name was restored.
Undeterred, the faithful fans of Clydebank, and that included the lads from Wet Wet Wet, set about re-forming the club and for their first season, based out of Duntocher, they played in the Scottish Supporters League. The following season they joined the Western Region Juniors and playing in front of four figure crowds they started to progress. In 2008 they moved in with Yoker Athletic and reached the Junior Cup Final, taking almost 6,000 fans to Kilmarnock, only to lose out to Talbot.
|The Covered Terrace|
The top flight was reached in 2011, but relegation followed, only for them to return in 2015 where they remain. At the start of this season they moved across town to share with Maryhill while Yoker’s Holm Park undergoes improvements.
With my monthly trip to Glasgow in the diary, it was time to look at the fixtures and the game between the Bankies and Rossvale jumped out at me, simply because of the history of Clydebank FC, and of course, the fact they are still very well supported.
Maryhill’s Lochburn Park is easily reached by a train from Glasgow Queen Street, you alight ten minutes later at Gilschochill and after a ten minute walk you are at the ground. Surrounded by industry and commerce on the edge of the busy main road that leads into the City, the area around
Lochburn Park is a busy place. I took refreshments in Harvey’s opposite the ground, where the site of an old fella drinking a pint of Tartan through a straw restored my faith in humanity!
What a belter of stadium it is. Like many Junior grounds, it’s trapped in time, but bursting with character. From the old ornate gates that sit aside the turnstiles, you walk in and what you’ve effectively got is a pitch that is almost sunken, with the terraces and buildings sat high above the surface. The Social Club is to the right, while in front of that and up the touchline is a section of elevated terracing the backs onto a building, the purpose of which I couldn’t tell you.
The top goal is out of bounds but attached to this is a rack of elevated seating in blue and red, uncovered, that’s clearly seen better days. Opposite is a covered terrace that is very unique in its construction, in the sense that the style of the cladding makes it look and feel like some sort of industrial unit loading bay! The roof shape as well is also not something commonly seen. The bottom goal is hard standing that slopes from the turnstile end down to the far corner flag.
|Out Of Bounds|
The ground also has something that isn’t overly common at Junior grounds, floodlights. Midweek football is relatively rare in the Juniors (apart from the opposite ends of the season), and come winter games kick off at 1.45pm. Again, this is something that very much distinguishes the Junior from the Senior.
As for the game, it was entertaining and of a very good standard. Despite it being a League Cup tie, I would estimate around 250 were in attendance, and the opening goal came in the eighth minute when Del Hepburn scored a screamer with his right foot.
Rossvale, another Glasgow based side from Bishopbriggs, who compete in the second tier of the
Western Region having won promotion last season, were certainly not second best and having missed good chances in the first period, deservedly equalised in the 73rd minute when Chris Zok converted a penalty. It was the least Rossvale deserved on balance of play.
However, as the game moved into the closing stages a mis-placed back pass found Steven Higgins who poked the ball home for the Bankies winner. They managed to hold on and moved into the Quarter Final where they meet Petershill. In fairness to Rossvale though, they will be gutted because for me they matched Clydebank all the way.
So that was another very enjoyable night in the Juniors, and by making the first available train back at the station it was back into the centre of Glasgow for ten past nine. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to find any more Junior football now as we move into the darker nights, which will be a shame.
But, with change on the horizon and already under way in some cases, the Junior football landscape is going to start to look very different. That change does appear less likely in the stronger Western Region, but with Bankies one of the names believed to be keen on a jump to the Seniors, presumably with a view of a return to the Scottish League ranks, it’s very much one to keep an eye on. Talk suggests the top flight of the West could simply be re-named ‘en-masse’ the Seniors, and therefore join the Pyrmaid, but I suspect it’s not that simple.
It never is, is it?